The operator of McDonald’s files a constitutional complaint against Tübingen’s packaging tax.

McDonald’s-Verpackungen vor einer Filiale in Tübingen

McDonald’s-Verpackungen vor einer Filiale in Tübingen


Christoph Schmidt / dpa

The Federal Constitutional Court must address the controversial packaging tax on disposable cups and food packaging in the city of Tübingen. McDonald’s, the fast-food chain, announced on Friday that a franchisee from Tübingen has filed a constitutional complaint. A spokesperson for the highest German court confirmed its receipt in Karlsruhe.

In May, the Federal Administrative Court ruled that Tübingen is allowed to impose a tax on disposable packaging, disposable tableware, and cutlery for food and beverage vendors. As a result, the operator of a McDonald’s branch in the university city, who had filed a lawsuit against the municipal packaging tax regulation with the support of the fast food company, was unsuccessful. In the previous instance, McDonald’s had prevailed at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg.

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The city’s goal is to reduce litter in public spaces through taxation. After the ruling, other cities in Germany initially hesitated to follow the example set by Baden-Württemberg. In a survey, one reason they cited was the desire for a solution that spans across multiple cities.

McDonald’s announced that they will continue to support the franchisee. „The reason for this is that we are still convinced that a nationwide and uniform solution is needed for this issue. Individual solutions like in Tübingen are not feasible, especially for companies operating nationwide.“ Consequently, a nationwide solution would not only provide planning security for the approximately 200 local medium-sized franchisees, but also promote necessary innovations for more sustainable packaging on a broader scale.

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According to the city of Tübingen, the constitutional complaint currently has no impact on the packaging tax. „It is levied in accordance with the adjustments made by the Federal Administrative Court,“ said a spokesperson. Therefore, 50 cents (net) are due for disposable packaging such as coffee cups and takeaway dishes, as well as 20 cents for disposable cutlery and other utensils, such as drinking straws. However, the previous cap of 1.50 euros per individual meal no longer applies after the ruling.

The Umwelthilfe urges Lemke to take action.

„I cannot reword“

The German Environmental Aid criticized the constitutional complaint, stating that instead of banning single-use items from its stores and switching to reusable ones, McDonald’s is trying to prevent courageous local politics by any means necessary. The constitutional complaint is seen as a delaying tactic to hinder effective measures to promote reusable items. This behavior wastes valuable resources of the Federal Constitutional Court and could easily be stopped by Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke by making unnecessary single-use tableware financially unattractive through a nationwide levy of at least 20 cents.